You can always trust your best friend… can’t you?
When Rachel discovers a Twitter message arranging a romantic liaison she assumes her husband is having an affair and follows him. What she witnesses is so much worse: a hit and run using his car.
Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie is increasingly worried about her fiance, who’s not been in touch for days. When Suzie learns of huge debts racked up in her name she fears he has run out on her, but then the threatening calls start and she thinks something terrible has happened.
Rachel and Suzie are both about to learn shocking things about the men they love, worse than they could ever imagine… Can their friendship survive?
Zoe Lea – IF HE WAKES – Guest Post
Why I write psychological thrillers
I wrote that title thinking there’d be a really easy answer, but as I’ve sat here, looking at the blank page for ten minutes, I’ve realised that there isn’t an easy answer at all.
The thing is, I didn’t set out to write psychological thrillers. I started writing young adult books, which are a bit different, so it’s not like my route to writing If He Wakes was simple.
I’ve always really enjoyed writing. I had a small success into the foray of publishing when, at sixteen, I had a short story accepted for Jackie magazine (which way back then, was one of those publications aimed at teenage girls.) I continued to write for them for a few years until the magazine folded and so when it I felt I was ready to have a go at writing a book, which was almost ten years later I might add, I felt a young adult book was the natural choice.
So I wrote a young adult novel, and it was bad. Not good at all. It was about a teenager pretending she was pregnant so she could illicit revenge on some lad that had dumped her. It got a bit of interest from some agents, but ultimately it went nowhere.
Then I wrote another, this time, going for the romance market. It was about a girl who falls for a boy in a band, only she doesn’t find out he’s famous until it’s too late, and she’s been forced into the shallow world of celebrity and fame.
That one did even worse than the first, so in short, I gave up. Putting your writing out there is hard, and even harder when you’re getting numerous rejections, so I stopped for a while and went back to short stories.
It was a few years later that I read Stephen King’s book, On Writing. My close friend was seriously writing at the time, and we discussed the process of writing endlessly. She’d started to write a book, a really great book, and she kept on telling me that I should be writing one too.
I thought about it. Looked at the young adult market and what was selling, tried to come up with a premise that I thought agents and publishers would like, and then as the feeling of dread descended, I suddenly realised I was doing it all wrong. I didn’t even read young adult books so what made me think I would like writing them?
It sounds obvious now, but really, it took me an age to realise. You hear so often, ‘write what you know,’ instead of, ‘write what you like.’
I looked at the books I was reading, the authors whom I admired, all crime, all thrillers.
It still took me a while before I plucked up the courage to even start writing in this genre. It was daunting, I found I was endlessly comparing my work to the authors I coveted, but then, once I got going, I found I couldn’t stop.
Unlike when I was writing young adult, when I had to drag myself to the keyboard and try to stack up my word count, writing If He Wakes was a joy. I was thinking about my characters all day, I couldn’t sleep because of the situations I’d put them in, in short, I was excited about my book. About my plot. About how I’d get the characters out of the situations I’d put them in. It was like trying to solve a massive jigsaw puzzle, and I loved it.
So why do I write psychological thrillers? Because I love them. Because this type of book exhilarates me, it fills me with anxiety so real in places that I flinch when I write certain scenes. It takes me on a rollercoaster, it entertains me, and it’s because these are the types of books that dominate my shelves.
Zoe Lea lives in the Lake District with her husband, their two children, three dogs and peregrine falcons. She has previously worked as a teacher, photographer and freelance journalist and is a writer in the day and a reader by night. If He Wakes is her debut novel.
An absorbing, believable first chapter perfectly sets the scene for what is to come, in this tense and shocking psychological thriller. Told from Rachel and Suzie’s points of view the two friends both experience increasingly disturbing events in their otherwise ordinary lives that leave them doubting everything they previously believed; threatening, their friendship and sanity.
The plot cleverly conceals more than it reveals and just when you think you’ve solved the mystery, you find another twist. Authentic characters complement the realistic storyline in a readable mix of action and introspection. The genuinely chilling factor of this story is it could happen and probably has, real nail-biting, what if it happened to me? Experience the nightmare without the consequences when you read this book.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.